Saturday, October 9, 2021


Op Note II

The patient was wheeled in.  We did a safety time-out.  As part of the new process, everyone needed to account for themselves.  We all needed to be known.  The anesthesiologist was a pompous genius. When he was 13 he had elucidated the basic mathematical conceits of Boyle’s law before he’d ever heard of it.  When he found out his discovery had already been made, that it would always be Boyle’s Law and not a law named after him, he retreated from scientific inquiry and spent his free time compiling lists of objectionable traits in all the souls he encountered in preparation for a dystopian novel he would never write. The scrub tech had a teenage daughter who’d run away to Texarkana with a boy who spent his nights reading Ayn Rand.  The locket around her neck opened to a fuzzy picture of the girl when she was a happy gap toothed second grader.  The circulating nurse ate baby carrots dipped in hummus everyday for lunch, and never once offered to share.  Her name was "Kathy" or "Mrs Savoya".  If you called her just “Savoya” she would write you up.  The orderly was named Jim but everyone called him John due to an orientation week error.  By now, even the people who knew his real name called him John. His employee tag was sort of smudged.  The surgeon had been in the room waiting all along, arms crossed, a scowl on his face.  He was late and his clinic was calling.  Everyone looked the same to him, the way all cars appear in the middle of a traffic jam.  We mispronounced the patient’s name.  He was too drugged to protest.  Then he was an object with a medical record number.  A date of birth.  A blank space for time of death.  An oxygen mask was placed on his face.  Something began to shift.  Everyone began to move around and do the things that needed to be done.  People moving objects into the places where they belonged.  Yes, there was a liver and a spleen.  Yes, the diaphragm arched above the stomach like a summer pavilion. The rhythmic coil and churn of pink bowel spattered with a rosacea of arborizing capillaries.  None of this had ever been seen.  It had only ever been an idea. The image was immaculately beautiful on the screen.  We all suddenly felt safe, as safe as we would ever feel again.


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